Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett took time during the last days of his life to apologize to Muslims in his area over Donald Trump’s candidacy, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.
“In the last days of his life this was an issue that was pressing in his mind … disgust for Donald Trump’s xenophobia,” said his son Jim Bennett. “At the end of his life he was preoccupied with getting things done that he had felt was left undone.”
Bennett, who was already battling pancreatic cancer, first expressed his wish to atone for Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigrants while staying at at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he was taken after suffering a stroke in April.
“I’d love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country, and apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump,” the senator reportedly said. Bennett was a moderate GOP member who served in the Senate between 1992 and 2010, when he lost the Republican primary to Tea Party member Mike Lee.
Bennett’s wife, Joyce Bennett, told the Daily Beast that he was “outraged” by the real estate mogul’s call for a halt to Muslim immigration into the US.
“He was astonished and aghast that Donald Trump had the staying power that he had,” Jim Bennett added. “He had absolutely no respect for Donald Trump, and I think got angry and frustrated when it became clear that the party wasn’t going to steer clear of Trumpism.”
The senator, his son said, recognized “the parallel” in the experiences shared by Muslims and members of his own Mormon faith. While he did not get to meet with any Muslims during his hospital stay, his wife said he made good on his promise.
“He would go to people with the hijab [on] and tell them he was glad they were in America, and they were welcome here,” she said. “He wanted to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party.”
Bennett died on May 4. He was 82.